Happy whatever day it is! I didn’t do a food post last Friday because, I forget why. Oh, because I was complaining about the pope. Anyway I wanted to share the results of a recipe from the previous Friday. It’s sabanekh bil hummus, Palestinian spinach and chickpea soup. I followed the recipe from Saveur and it was deeee-lectable.
You saute some onions in olive oil, and then you toast some spices (cumin and coriander) and then grind them, then add them to the onions along with some garlic, plus allspice and nutmeg, and pepper, and cook a little longer, then add chickpeas and stock. (It called for vegetable stock, but I had chicken.)
Simmer for about half an hour, add in fresh baby spinach, fresh lemon juice, some kosher salt, and a little more olive oil. Look-a here, now.
It was so good. The earthy spices combined with the bright lemon juice and the tender chickpeas and spinach made it a surprisingly interesting dish, considering it’s just broth with chickpeas and spinach. Damien and I absolutely loved it. Definitely adding it to the Friday rotation.
I’m kind of mad about this, but I’m now fully converted to the notion that fresh ingredients are worth the trouble. Sometimes you just plain don’t have the time or energy, and then it’s a blessing to use convenience foods! It’s fine, it’s not a moral issue! But if you can grind spices and squeeze lemons and crush garlic and chop herbs, oh man. Do yourself a favor. It eventually stops feeling laborious and extravagant and just feels like the normal way to cook, and it elevates your flavors so much.
Of course I still buy bouillon powder, rather than making my own stock, and I still routinely buy frozen pizza dough and so on. Let’s not be silly. I know you’ll agree that I draw the line at exactly the right arbitrary spot. I KNOW YOU’LL AGREE.
Damien and I were both insanely busy all week. Just tons of writing, and we had two birthdays, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t even remember. Also Sophia went to Rome with her high school class, and we had to get both cars fixed (my car was doing something that was causing people to stop me and say, “Excuse me, do you know your car is–” and I would have to sigh, “Yesss, I am aware,” and I drove around like that for over a week before I had a chance to get it fixed. So penitential, much litany of humility. Damien’s car was fine, except for the brakes, pff), and Lena taught the dog to roll over, which was more emotionally fraught for the whole family than you might expect. Also the dryer broke, and I hit some lady’s mailbox on the way home from band. I really kranged it good, and it was very cold out, so it shattered, so I had to knock on her door and say, I’m sorry, I hit your mailbox, and there was a very old, unclothed man sleeping in the living room with purple old his legs sticking out. Probably can’t really blame the dog for that (I do not take him to band).
I did manage to get the one stinking maple tree tapped finally, though. It’s a long story and probably nothing will come of it, but I really hate not finishing projects, so I’m forging ahead. Look-a here, now!
I’m sorry I keep saying that. I’ve been listening to funk music lately and it stuck, for some reason.
Words cannot describe how long ago that Saturday and those hamburgers were.
Grilled ham and cheese
We had these sandwiches on ciabatta rolls. I really hate cooking with an iron frying pan, but it does come in handy for laying on top of a puffy sandwich and weighing it down when you’re trying to get cheap Aldi cheese to melt.
Southwest chicken salad
I drizzled some chicken breasts with something called elote seasoning, which seems to be mostly chili powder, salt, and dehydrated cheese powder, and roasted the chicken, and served the chicken slices over mixed greens with shredded cheddar, some corn sautéed in olive oil, and chipotle ranch dressing, with corn chips.
I feel like there were beans, but maybe they remained in the realm of hypothesis. Anyway, it was a good salad.
Lasagna, Mars cake
Tuesday was Elijah’s birthday celebration, and he requested Damien’s amazing lasagna, which he makes using the Albert Burneko recipe. Absolutely stupendous. Creamy cheese sauce, ultra savory tomato sauce with meat, just fab. I always get a terrible picture of this lasagna because, once he sets it on the table, no power on heaven or earth can slow me down.
It weighs about 87 pounds and it’s so good.
I also made a Mars cake. Elijah likes Mars a lot, and I thought it would be nice to throw together a little fondant Mars Perseverance Rover with wheels that turn and a little gum paste Ingenuity helicopter with a rotor that spins, how hard could it be??
Well. I took a chance and broke away from my filthy box cake ways and used the King Arthur “Simple and Rich Chocolate Cake” recipe and it was exactly that, simple and rich (and chocolate, and cake. And a recipe. You guys, I’m so tired). And the cake turned out very well! I made a simple frosting with butter, a little salt and vanilla, powdered sugar, and milk, and the Mars part was pretty enough.
Then, well, things got out of hand a little bit with the robots
What can I say, an attempt was made. The good news is, he turned down my original idea, which was a galaxy mirror glaze cake with a surprise Mars-shaped heart baked right into it. So like when you cut space open, there’s Mars inside! Just like in real life! So we didn’t do that, which is good, because I can’t do that. Instead, we had the robuts, held together with toothpicks. They would have been better if he had let me put candy eyeballs on them, but I learned just in time that he actually feels strongly about robots and eyeballs. Look-a here.
Man, it’s a good thing I wrote this down, because I don’t remember this at all. What a week. I fell asleep on the couch so many times.
Mussakhan and taboon bread, tabouleh
This I do remember. This is the second time I have made this meal, recipe also from Saveur, and it was just as popular this time. It’s quite easy, but packs a huge punch with flavor. You just have to get your chicken parts and onions marinating several hours ahead of time, and then you just roast it up.
Just before it’s done, you fry up some pine nuts and toss them over the top of the sizzling hot chicken, which you have lavishly spread over the piping hot taboon bread,Jump to Recipe
which you have whipped up a few hours before dinner because you believe in yourself. Actually I timed it a little wrong and the chicken was ready a few minutes before the bread, so people started eating it before I could put it on the bread. A minor disappointment, soothed by the implied compliment that they couldn’t wait to get their hands on that chicken. I still had my chicken on bread, and I spooned up plenty of the lovely sumac-laden roasting juices to ladle over the tender, dimpled taboon.
This meal is so good, you can’t imagine. The chicken is so juicy and the mixture of spices is just heavenly. You got the happy salty little bread cloud floating underneath and it’s really just hard to stop eating.
I also picked up a few boxes of tabouleh, already mixed with seasoning, so you just had to pour hot water over it to wake it up, and then I added some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers and feta cheese. I ate, uh, kind of a lot of that, too, even though it was just boxabouleh.
Just regular old pizza, whew.
Oh, I was planning to tell you about the whole other cake, but I guess that belongs in next week’s post! I mean this week’s post. I did start it on Thursday. Well, next time, I’ll tell you allll about it. It just about killed me.
And now it’s Tuesday. We got a massive dump of snow, the power is out, and I guess we are going to have corn flakes and melted snow for supper.
You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.
- 6 cups bread flour
- 4 packets yeast
- 3 cups water
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil
Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.
While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.
Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.
If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.
Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.